Giro Donne 2023 Race Preview

Cavalli, Van Vleuten, Garcia Giro Donne 2022

Giro Donne History

The Giro Donne is one of the longest running major stage races in the women’s cycling calendar. You can trace it all the way back to 1988 when Maria Canins won, although she didn’t quite pull off the Giro/Tour double as she finished 2nd in France. From there, repeat winners like Fabiana Luperini and Joane Somarriba dominated. Both strong climbers, Luperini won 4 in a row from 1995-1998 before claiming her 5th win in 2008. Somarriba closed out the turn of the century with wins in 1999 and 2000. Despite podium placings from them both, the likes of Nicole Brändli and Edita Pucinskaite took over with a pair of wins each before a new generation took hold.

That was led by Marianne Vos at the peak of her powers, countered by Mara Abbott whose climbing came through when the route was set up to her strengths. Vos took 3 GC victories but also has over 30 stage victories over the years at the Giro Donne. Mara Abbott is around the same age as Vos but drifted out of the sport in 2016 after a spell at Wiggle-High5 due to the unsupportable wages of the time.

After a brief interlude from another American Megan Guarnier in 2016, we entered the Anna Van der Breggen and Annemiek Van Vleuten era. The Giro Donne has been won by one of the two great stars each year since then (Van der Breggen also sneaked in a win before then in 2015) and with Van der Breggen now in the team car, it’s only Van Vleuten who can keep the run going. 

This year’s race has had a litany of issues which takes us back to the Giro Rosa race name years. It’s been written about in great detail before on ProCyclingUK but we’ve had a rollercoaster ride of a Rome Grande Partenza that was quietly shelved, no details whatsoever about the race, then TV coverage threatened which became a crescendo where the race itself was under threat for 2023. It all now looks resolved but many will be looking ahead to the 2024 edition which will be run by RCS, organisers of the men’s Giro d’Italia for the first time.

Previous Winners

Giro Donne 2023 Profiles

Stage 1 Profile (TT)

Stage 2 Profile

Stage 3 Profile

Stage 4 Profile

Stage 5 Profile

Stage 6 Profile

Stage 7 Profile

Stage 8 Profile

Stage 9 Profile

TV Coverage

Friday 30th June 2023 to Sunday 9th July 2023

Live on Eurosport/GCN

Stage 1: 13:30-15:15
Stage 2: 11:45-13:45
Stage 3: 11:45-13:45
Stage 4: 11:45-13:45
Stage 5: 11:45-13:45
Stage 6: 11:45-13:45
Stage 7: 11:45-13:45
Stage 8: 11:45-13:45
Stage 9: 11:45-13:45

All times in BST

Twitter: #GiroDonne or #GiroDonne23

Startlist: FirstCycling

Giro Donne 2023 Contenders

As one of only two active riders with Giro Donne GC wins, many will be expecting Annemiek van Vleuten to win again this year. It’s going to be tough though as it still doesn’t look like the 2022 Van Vleuten has quite returned yet. The Vuelta Femenina was won with tactics rather than strength and it might have to be repeated here. The lack of major mountains negates some of her advantages and it could all work out similarly to the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana. It’s winnable but tough. There’s also Liane Lippert for some strong support as the pair have worked well in tandem all season. She will return in the German national champion jersey and look to build on her 7th in GC at Itzulia Women. Stages 6 and 7 feel ideal for a late Lippert attack for the line.

We’re going to be looking at and expecting Lorena Wiebes to win at least 1 stage here and it could potentially be up to 3 or 4 depending on just how strong her climbing is now. Her inclusion makes Stage 3 feel like a foregone conclusion but the other teams can certainly have a go at dropping her elsewhere with no Reusser/Vollering/Kopecky trio. Niamh Fisher-Black should be the GC leader and will be buoyed by her stage win at Tour de Suisse Women. The Kiwi was 5th in last year’s Giro Donne and is certainly a stronger rider now.

Trek Segafredo is going to properly challenge here. Well, Lidl-Trek is at least, the team’s name change kicks in for the Giro Donne and there will be a new jersey to look out for. Elisa Longo Borghini will no doubt take on the lead duties, with a gap that should be established from the opening short TT stage. The new Italian champ says she’s not focusing on GC here but surely that’s how it will play out. She’ll work in tandem with Gaia Realini who helped guide her to the Italian National Championships and the UAE Tour GC already this season. It’s a strong mentor and protegee relationship that seems to be working well.
Also a threat will be Shirin van Anrooij. On another team with this route, she might be a GC threat but I think the team will be looking at Longo Borghini. Instead, a stage win for the Trofeo Alfredo Binda winner is a real possibility. Lizzie Deignan is another stage win wildcard too. 3rd at RideLondon Classique, with a 2nd and 3rd along the way. Deignan has never won a non-TTT Giro Donne stage, so it’s one missing from the palmares.

Mavi Garcia was on the back foot at the Vuelta Femenina from the off on the team time trial stage. She’s just missed out on the Spanish TT championship but should be a little better off at the short TT here. Garcia finished 3rd in last year’s Giro Donne and that’s a possibility again this year. She’s another for whom the last of major climbs doesn’t quite suit as well as other years, however. Rachele Barbieri has had a hard 2023 so far but there were signs last month that it might be starting to come back together. Last year, the Italian had 4 top-10 stage results on home soil.

Another team with a name change is Team DSM, which will be Team dsm-firmenich having lost its capitalisation. Juliette Labous is going to be a strong threat as well. Always with a decent time trial, she won’t lose much on the opening stage and also will be able to climb find on this route. She was 7th in the Vuelta Femenina and should be able to improve that at the Giro Donne. Last year’s solo stage win on the Passo Maniva shows what Labous can do. Teammate Megan Jastrab will get sprinting duties this year after working for Charlotte Kool in last season’s Giro Donne. The American has taken strong results at Gent Wevelgem and Brugge-De Panne this year and those results on tough hilly stages will bode well on a Giro Donne route with few clear flat opportunities.

Marianne Vos will be here to add to her many, many, many Giro Donne stage victories. The days of a GC win are long over but Vos was still able to add 2 more wins last season and shows no sign of slowing down. 2 stage wins at the Vuelta Femenina this year also allowed her to wear the race leader’s jersey there too. This will be one of Vos’ big goals for the season and she rarely comes away disappointed. We also get to see Fem van Empel in her first-ever Women’s WorldTour race. There will be plenty of hype and Vos will take a lot of pressure off but she may be in with a shot of a good result. 6th in Veenendaal Veenendaal is her best result of the 2 UCI road races she’s done but the 35th at Brabantse Pijl hides a poorly timed mechanical.

It looks like Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig will be racing for FDJ-Suez. She’s had a so-so year so far in 2023, with a couple of strong results here and there but no real high either. Major climbs on Hautacam and Lagunas de Neila have seen her dropped from the main front group of riders and the only podium is the gifted via DSQ one at Strade Bianche. Stage 6 looks a perfect ending for Cille to do well on though. There is also Marta Cavalli for FDJ-Suez GC hopes. The Italian is starting to look more like her old self again after winning on Hautacam during the Tour des Pyrénées. She also podiumed the Italian nationals, being involved in the final sprint. It’s taken almost a year but Cavalli looks like genuine contender again.

Silvia Persico came so close to a maiden Italian national championship, just being beaten on the line by Longo Borghini as their shoulders came together on the finish line. We’ve maybe not seen quite the same results as last year so far but this route is pretty much perfect for her though. Short punchy finishes or climbing followed by flat, these feel like great chances for Persico to get a stage win. Teammate Marta Bastianelli will bow out from the pro peloton at the end of the Giro Donne. Joining the pro ranks back in 2006, World Champion in 2007, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, but being able to leave the pro ranks with a win here would be a strong send-off. It’s a surprise that she only has 1 Giro Donne stage win from back in 2017.

Jayco-AlUla looks to be firmly in stage-hunting mode with the likes of Georgia Baker a threat on the opening short TT and maybe flat sprints. Letizia Paternoster is another one for sprints with a good few top-10s this season. We saw at the Tour de Suisse Women what Urska Zigart can do with a solo break on a hilly rolling course and Ane Santesteban‘s 2nd place at Durango Durango makes her a threat on lumpy days like Stage 6. I can see how on this route Ruby Roseman-Gannon might turn into a quiet GC top-10 threat too. She’s been very consistent on lumpy courses and does ok against the clock too. A tier or two lower than the best GC threats, she could still very much impress at this year’s Giro Donne.

Chloe Dygert
Chloe Dygert

Canyon SRAM is bringing Chloe Dygert as a really strong GC threat here. It’s expected that she will do very well in the opening 4.4km time trial and then hang on to pink or be close to it for a number of days. In that way, it should play out something similar to the Vuelta Femenina where Dygert sprinted for bonus seconds repeatedly. On this Giro Donne route, there’s a chance for the GC win. Antonia Niedermaier will be a threat too after finishing 3rd on Hautacam at the controversial Tour de Pyrénées. We’re missing that sort of major summit finish here but that’s a great sign for the 20-year-old. The closest rider to a sprinter here for Canyon is Soraya Paladin. She was 9th overall at RideLondon Classique after 3rd place on Stage 2. She’s been a consistent top-10 merchant all year without reaching the top step…yet.

Letizia Borghesi is coming into form in time for the Giro Donne. A pair of top-10s in Belgium in the last couple of weeks will mean she’s a threat on the lumpy parcours we’ve got this year. Similar to someone like Soraya Paladin, Borghesi won’t be there in a pure flat sprint but any finishes that come down to a smaller bunch after a tough stage will suit her nicely. It’s been maybe a tougher season so far for Veronica Ewers compared to 2022 as her efforts last year made her less of an unknown quantity in the bunch. She’s still been solid for sure but doesn’t have a top-10 result yet in 2023. This terrain suits though and we might see something good from the American who’s been at altitude the last few weeks.

The super 2023 form of Claire Steels continues into the Giro Donne. 2nd in the British national championships this weekend, she was looking strong throughout. Her consistency at the Tour de Suisse allowed her to finish 6th overall, especially impressive as it came only a few days after a tough crash onto her face at the Tour de Pyrénées. We also saw a strong TT in Switzerland and she might not start as far behind as some might think.

Ally Wollaston should be a contender in the reduced bunch sprints that we’re going to see this year. The winner of Festival Elsy Jacobs this year has no problem getting over a few climbs and still being quick at the end. She matched Marta Bastianelli in that race and came out on top. Whilst most of the rest of the peloton has been doing national championships, the Kiwi has been busy racing and winning smaller Belgian races to show she’s in good nick.

Petra Stiasny is the climbing option for Fenix-Deceuninck and showed a little bit of what she can do at the Tour de Suisse with 7th on the hilly final stage. So far in her young career, the best results seem to be coming in Switzerland so there’s a chance to make that a bit more diverse here. Teammate Maria Martins should get the nod in the sprints and is a threat on flat stages. Stage 3 should be her best chance of a result as she’s notched up plenty of top-10s in Belgian one-day races in 2023 so far. She should get a top-10 at some point in this year’s Giro Donne.

Giro Donne 2023 Outsiders

Lizzy Banks
Lizzy Banks

Still finding her feet again after over a year out is Lizzy Banks. The Brit has a great history at the Giro Donne, taking a stage win in both 2019 & 2020. They both came from breaks and there are plenty of similar stages here this year for her to capitalise on. Stages 5 and 8 might be ideal for the break to succeed. 

Alessia Vigilia feels like a certainty to be picked up by a major team next season. The Top Girls Fassa Bortolo rider has been impressive this year, finishing 3rd in GC at the Bretagne Ladies Tour and 2nd at La Classique Morbihan. The Italian has been a threat in lumpy rolling races all year but rarely gets a shot in WWT races. This year’s Giro Donne might give her a chance to shine at the highest level. Cristina Tonetti is another threat for the team too. A little bit younger and not quite as strong yet, Tonetti has still been putting up good results with 2nd at GP della Liberazione and 4th in La Classique Morbihan too.

Fenix-Deceuninck’s Carina Schrempf will be worth a look in her new Austrian champion’s jersey. She’s a former runner who is relatively new to top-level cycling still but there is a decent amount of potential there. She was 14th in the rain at Ronde Mouscron and 10th in the Ladies Tour of Estonia. She might be one for a breakaway one day.

Top 3 Prediction